19 Jun Back to where OG started: West Africa Global Health works with health initiatives in rural Ghana.
Spending the week in a small rural area called Sandema in Northern Ghana has been packed with adventure and placements related to global health. As a result, our team not only feels more educated in our respective interests, but collectively inspired by the stories and experiences that we shared with the locals and with each other.
Some of us started our week working at the local hospital where we had a chance to shadow professionals in medicine and public health as they performed their tasks and duties. In doing so, we were able to witness first hand how limited the Ghanian public health system is because of factors like limited staffing and insufficient equipment that is not up to standard. We worked in different areas of the hospital that included consulting, public health, and in the various wards. One of the girls on our team assisted the nurses in the room where they were performing an emergency C-section. The mother, baby and our brave participant are all doing well.
Others spent the week doing research assessments on behalf of the NGO, Ghana Medical Help, while some had similar interactions with local farmers about the hardships they face during the dry season through an organization called G-Roots. Ghana Medical Help was founded by a former OG participant and attempts to equip local hospitals with materials that are needed and urgently required in the various wards. Some of these items include but are not limited to thermometers, oxygen concentration units, and kidney dishes. The team members going to these hospitals found out how the tools provided by Ghana Medical Help were helping and what other needs the doctors and nurses required. After the research is assessed, materials are distributed to accommodate the needs of the hospitals.
Those who went with G-Roots had important conversations with farmers from rural villages about farming in Ghana during the dry season. As we found out through our interactions, not having a steady rain season has limited the growing capacity of many local farmers. When farmers cannot grow food to support themselves or their family, they end up going hungry or getting very sick because of malnutrition. Many of the villagers do not have much to sell during market day because of a poor growing season and end up bringing in a very small and inconsistent income. The lack of access to a community borehole has also made daily tasks difficult. The conversations that took place are an important part of G-roots mission to take time to listen to these farmers in order to help fund projects that will support them.
As well, our team has stayed busy working with some local organizations in Sandema. Horizons Children’s Centre (HCC) has kept us busy and fit with regular evening soccer games and language lessons as we try to learn the local tongue, Buli. HCC is the home to 24 boys who were formerly on the street or living in impoverished communities. HCC offers these boys a home and free access to education as part of a mission to emphasize the importance of working hard in order to be successful and prepared for their future endeavours. The boys have inspired all of us this week with their dedication in their studies and to each other. Their smiles are wonderfully contagious and are all unique in their own ways.
The Sandema Disability Centre has been a popular place to visit as well. We all got to know the founder, Gilbert and hear his inspiring story of the struggles he overcame and how he has moved forward to bring attention to people with disabilities. Some people in our team helped Gilbert write reports and build a database so he could maintain a more organized collection of all his records. Gilbert is very well known in his community as someone who has inspired many to get involved with the soap production that he coordinates with others who have a disability. The soap is inexpensive to make and is a very
valuable commodity in the market.
As we wrap up our last few days here, we do so with gratefulness. The people and hosts of this small town have been hospitable and generous. We feel humbled to have had the opportunity to work alongside such strong professionals who continue to go to work every day and do the best they can despite operating within a smaller means than we are accustomed to. The conversations that were shared with locals will not be soon forgotten and the experiences will surely be reflected upon as a motivational learning experience to push us further as individuals in the future.
Now, we look towards our independent travel time which will also be filled with new adventures and surprises that we can look forward to sharing with each other come disorientation in just a couple short weeks!
Till then we’ll keep practising our Buli.
– Maghen Quadrini, West Africa Global Health